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Subject:
From:
Patrick McCarthy <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Charles Dickens Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Tue, 16 Jun 2015 11:13:07 -0700
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Friends of the Dickens Forum,

     Robert Newsom <[log in to unmask]>  directs our attention to 
the development of the character of Mr. Pickwick,
who did not spring full-blown from anyone's head:                  (pjm)
>
>
> I do not mean to continue the controversy, but I do want to point out that
> in our discussion of "Mr. Pickwick" we have been treating him as a static
> figure, dreamt up in an instant, as it were, by Dickens or Seymour or
> whomever. (Dickens himself encourages this notion by saying "I thought of
> Mr. P. and wrote the first number.)
>
> But the Mr. Pickwick whom we first see presiding over his club is very
> different from the Mr. Pickwick who enters and is transformed by the fleet.
> Pickwick grows or evolves enormously in the course of the novel. And the
> novel grows and evolves. So too does Dickens.
>
> The first Pickwick Dickens characterizes as "immortal," but that is surely
> tinged with as much irony as hopefulness. Pickwick the President has much
> about him that is simply foolish (even if philosophers argue seriously
> about what constitutes "the Pickwickian sense.") The latter Pickwick is a
> much greater being. That he is immortal now follows from his growth and
> Dickens's.
>
> On Sun, Jun 14, 2015 at 8:11 PM, Patrick McCarthy <[log in to unmask]
>> wrote:
>> Friends of the Dickens Forum,
>>
>>      The major focus of the present discussion is what is called "Dickens
>> Bashing"  and also the
>> extent accusations against him, for example on  the originality of his Mr.
>> Pickwick, his treatment
>> of Catherine after the failure of his marriage, and the Ellen Turner
>> affair affect our larger sense of the
>> man Dickens.  We seems now to be focusing on the Seymour-Pickwick matter.
>>
>>      Rob Lapides is not alone in thinking that whatever the precise extent
>> of his debt
>> to Robert Seymour (Walter Smith concurs) the issue "in no way lessons
>> Dickens's amazing
>> achievement in  *Pickwick Papers*" and does not "harm his reputation as a
>> writer."
>>
>>      John Danza <[log in to unmask]> has researched the question of
>> what went
>> on in those months of 1836 when *Pickwick Papers* was a-borning. He says
>> credit for thinking
>> of the club and "hatch[ing] the project" belongs to Seymour, right
>> enough;  Dickens ran with the idea.
>> When Dickens claimed about a decade later in the preface to the Cheap
>> Edition,, "I thought of
>> Mr. Pickwick, and wrote the first number," he wrote a "famously
>> tantalising sentence."  For surely
>> Mr. Pickwick's birth was a complicated affair.
>>
>>      Yes, tantalising it is, Michael Slater, as you said in in your
>> wonderfully detailed and accurate biography of Dickens.
>> To read your entries on "Seymour, Robert" is to get as full an account as
>> we have.   We add only (thanks to a
>> reminder from Tony Pointon)  that in his last statement Seymour wrote that
>> no one was to be blamed
>> for his suicide but himself.
>>
>>      As a group, we do not want to get into a tit-for-tat dispute about the
>> facts of the matter.   Interpretations
>> are subtle  and it is easy to get caught up in varying interpretations.
>> Dickens surely took over the enterprise,
>> but what was his effect on Seymour?   His letter to the artist in these
>> crucial months asking him to alter
>> one of the illustrations can be read as innocuous or as a bumptious demand
>> from a fledging writer to an
>> established illustrator.   Tone, how the letter was intended to be read
>> and how it was read, is crucial.
>>
>>      John Danza thinks the controversy could have been muted: "Dickens
>> would not have been harmed in
>> the least to give Seymour the credit for the idea [of Mr. Pickwick] since
>> Dickens wrote all the words and
>> Seymour was involved in the project for all of a couple of months."
>>
>>      As so, it would seem, the matter rests.
>>
>>   P. McCarthy
>> Editor
>>
>
>